The Tech Talent Migration
Between 1997 and 2012, the number of technology jobs in the U.S. nearly doubled. In 2017, that number almost doubled again from the number of tech employed Americans in 2012 –rising to about 7.3 million employees across the country.
However, this is just the beginning. Experts expect this number to continue growing as Americans enter a future where wireless technology, smart cars, and cyber security reign supreme.
With such a flourishing industry, how many technology workers are willing to relocate for a job? Which cities draw the most tech talent? And what can they expect when it comes to salary increases? We studied over 77,000 job relocations in the tech industry to learn just that. Continue reading to see what we uncovered.
How Tech Talent Travels Across the USA
When it comes to the tech industry, California is arguably the most relevant state. Its tech sector is one of the largest drivers of commerce statewide, and cities like San Francisco have grown to become world-renowned for the sheer number of tech companies that call them home.
The Bay Area’s opportunities beckoned to residents of other major metro areas, including Chicago and New York. Seattle, home to vibrant startup and corporate tech scenes of its own, saw a significant portion of its professionals flow to San Francisco as well. That transfer of talent wasn’t one-sided, however: San Francisco provided the largest influx of workers to Seattle in turn. The allure of the Pacific Northwest also seemed to speak to New Yorkers, who migrated to Seattle in significant numbers.
Northeastern hubs New York and Boston engaged in a healthy exchange of talent, too, though NYC represented a larger source for Beantown than vice versa. Perhaps that’s more a function of these cities’ respective populations than their tech opportunities, however: NYC houses nearly 13 times as many residents. Further south along the Eastern seaboard, D.C. also pulled the largest portion of its talent from New York. But it also the only city we studied to draw a large portion of its talent from Baltimore, which, after all, lies only an Amtrak ride away.
San Francisco, CA
Salary change when moving to San Francisco, CA
It’s no surprise San Francisco stands out as one of the biggest migration points for tech workers – though that may change in the future. With its proximity to Silicon Valley (the home of tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Apple), the Bay Area added 22,000 new tech jobs to its payroll between 2013 and 2015, though analysts project these numbers may start to lessen in the coming years.
Our study shows Americans moving from Seattle to San Francisco earned an average of nearly $45,000 more than their previous compensation, while those moving from New York City reported an average increase of roughly $110,000.
Salary change when moving to Seattle, WA
If San Francisco is king in the rapidly growing tech sector, then Seattle might just be next in line to the throne. While our study revealed roughly 8,400 Americans packed their bags and moved to the Emerald City for technology-based careers (more than half the number who moved to San Francisco), analysts indicate those currently working in Silicon Valley could have their eye on Seattle’s opportunities.
The difference in housing costs alone could mean that even if you’re earning less in Seattle, you’d still be taking home more compared to living in San Francisco. Microsoft and Amazon are two of the biggest names based out of Seattle, but even Google and Facebook have satellite offices there.
Our study found Seattle was slightly less diverse compared to San Francisco when it came to the gender of its tech employees – nearly 81 percent of transplants were men. The most common job title changes for people moving to Seattle? Workers transitioned from software engineers to software development engineers, followed by software developers to software development engineers.
New York, NY
Salary change when moving to New York, NY
Cities on the West Coast aren’t the only locations you should have your eye on if technology matters to you. Casper, Warby Parker, and Blue Apron are just a few of Empire State brands that have helped grow New York City by more than 7,000 new tech jobs. This could partially be a response to the availability of funding from investors in NYC, or the business diversity that has some experts calling New York City the next Silicon Valley.
Like other major cities across the U.S., more than three times as many tech job transfers in New York City involved men compared to women. While Americans transitioning from other East Coast cities to New York City (including Boston, Fulton, and Philadelphia) saw between a $36,000 and $62,000 average increase in their annual salaries, people moving from San Francisco for new tech opportunities usually took a pay cut – earning nearly $2,000 less on average.
Software engineer to senior software engineer was the most common title change, followed by senior software engineer to software engineer.
Salary change when moving to Boston, MA
Boston may not initially come to mind when thinking of the tech industry, but it might if you live there. Technology jobs make up one of the strongest concentrations of the job market in Boston – one of the most unlikely tech hubs in the country. The availability of funding, the culture of innovation, and the proximity to research and tech-focused education are all a part of Boston’s status as one of the fastest growing tech cities in the U.S.
Another draw is apparently local payrolls: Workers hailing from cities in the South and Midwest enjoyed significant salary upgrades. Talent arriving from Chicago and Atlanta both saw six-figure pay bumps, and even urbanites from New York and Austin made tens of thousands more once arriving in Boston.
Another draw is apparently local payrolls: Workers hailing from cities in the South and Midwest enjoyed significant salary upgrades. Talent arriving from Chicago and Atlanta both saw six-figure pay bumps, and even urbanites from New York, D.C. and Austin made tens of thousands more once they got to Boston. Additionally, the city actually has a lower cost of living than many of its feeder locations, so those pay increases may go even further in terms of lifestyle for professionals who make the move. That difference in daily costs may also explain why talent consistently arrives from San Francisco and Seattle, despite lower salaries upon arrival.
Salary change when moving to Washington, DC
If politics are all you think about when Washington, D.C., comes to mind, think again. The nation’s capital is actually the third largest city in America for tech employment. With the size of the federal government sector getting smaller as national debt increases, startup tech companies like ByteCubed, Oasys, and Tahzoo may have an opportunity to seize the moment as D.C. turns its attention to technology.
Like Boston, more than a third of Americans migrating to Washington, D.C. for tech jobs may not have had a degree before landing their new jobs. Software engineer to senior engineer was the most common title change among Washington, D.C., transplants, followed by systems engineer to senior systems engineer.
Your Personal Valuation
When it comes to the vast number of tech opportunities, a majority of workers were willing to make big moves to advance their careers. Cities like San Francisco have seen so much tech talent migration that it can hardly keep up with the rate of change. Still, even cities outside of Silicon Valley, like New York City and Boston, have seen their share of inbound traffic.
Before you consider moving across the country for a job, make sure you know exactly what you’re worth. At Paysa, you can compare salaries across the market, in addition to the cost of living and industry trends, to negotiate the best possible offer. Visit us online at Paysa.com to learn more.
To create these assets, we analyzed Paysa’s internal data on over 77,000 job relocations in tech. We then compared worker’s previous employment location to their new employment location for migratory patterns. To create the major tech hub map, five large tech hubs that people migrated to from out of state, and then filtered our results to show only the migratory patterns into those 5 cities.